Severe storms hit Pittsburgh on Friday, cutting electricity to hospitals and universities and submerging vehicles on the main road, on Allegheny River’s valley and killing four people.
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The severe storm that hit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday cut electricity to hospitals and universities and submerged many vehicles in a flash flood that killed a woman and two children. Another person, a 70-year-old woman, was disappeared and found dead Saturday after a search by about 40 rescue workers.
According to officials, along Washington Boulevard, the main road that parallels the Allegheny River in the city’s Highland Park section, water rose up to 9 feet (about 2.7 meters) in some places, making the drivers unable to use their cars.
Inflatable boats were used by Pittsburgh’s rescue crews to reach and help drivers, though some swam to safety on their own. Rhodearland “Bob” Bailey of Penn Hills, who is about 80, was rescued from the roof of his car.
“I can swim a little bit and was looking at a tree branch,” Bailey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“I heard one woman yelling for help, but the water was coming down so fast, I couldn’t see. … I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life. Lord have mercy.”
Rihaan Gangat, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service said the area received 2.1 inches of rain in an hour (about 53 liters/square meter). But an earlier storm that hit the region came with 3 (about 76 liters/square meter) to 4 (about 102 liters/square meter) inches of rain overall on Friday.
[googlead tip=”vertical_mare” aliniat=”stanga”] Michael Huss, Pittsburgh public safety director said at a news conference the victims, one woman and two children, identified by the medical examiner as 45-year-old Kimberly Griffith of Plum, 12-year-old Brenna Griffith and 8-year-old Mikaela Griffith , were unable to escape their car, which was completely submerged and pinned to a tree and the rescue crews floated over the car without knowing it was below.
“The bottom of the boat didn’t even scrape against the top of the car,” said Raymond DeMichiei, deputy director of the city Office of Emergency Management.
“A fourth person, a 70-year-old woman, disappeared and was found dead Saturday after a search by about 40 rescue workers” Police Chief Nate Harper said. He declined to identify her or give the circumstances of her death.
Nate Harper said the rescuers found 18 vehicles stranded in the high water and saved 11 people. One woman, who was rescued, required hospitalization.
Flood had receded by evening, but the road remained closed through Saturday, as emergency crews work to clear the mud and all the stranded cars.
Tara Howes, 34, from Gibsonia, told the Tribune-Review that “manhole covers started popping up and it looked like the road exploded and the waters came up really fast. I saw people swimming on the sides of the road. It was pretty scary.”
Pittsburgh flash floods hit a city area that experienced serious flooding last month. The main road, Washington Boulevard, is parallel to the river and situated in a valley. Rushing water from a July 18 storm stranded motorists and caused a section of the road to buckle.
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Claudia Gallagher, 55, from West Mifflin, was driving north on Washington Boulevard at the height of the rainfall Friday and tried to get off the road as the water rose.
“We tried to drive up onto the curb, but the water had other ideas,” she told the Post-Gazette.
The car began to float, and she opened the window and climbed onto the roof.
“Many other drivers nearby were sitting atop their cars, too,” she said.
Friday morning, another storm cut electricity to University of Pittsburgh, which interrupted activity for the day. Parts of Carlow and Carnegie Mellon Universities also encountered power outages.
“Flights at Pittsburgh International Airport were grounded because of lightning just after 3 p.m.,” spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.
Two hospitals worked on emergency power after rains flooded a substation in the city’s Oakland neighborhood.